Charlton blame TV overkill for losses

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Charlton Athletic yesterday became the first Premier League club to blame financial losses on too many games being shown on television. The club's chairman, Richard Murray, said that football was reaching saturation point through being "overexposed" and warned that attendances were falling.

Charlton Athletic yesterday became the first Premier League club to blame financial losses on too many games being shown on television. The club's chairman, Richard Murray, said that football was reaching saturation point through being "overexposed" and warned that attendances were falling.

Murray also called for a change in the way that TV money is handed out, claiming that the biggest clubs receive too great a proportion and that this is making the League less competitive.

"Predictability is the enemy of even our most successful clubs," Murray said in a statement to the Stock Exchange after announcing that Charlton had made a net loss of £1.7m, £900,000 more than last year, with turnover dropping by eight per cent to £19.5m for the six months to 31 December.

This followed one of Charlton's most successful seasons, but they also invested heavily, with £7.6m spent on new players including Danny Murphy, Francis Jeffers, Dennis Rommedahl and Talal El Karkouri.

The club's wage bill has also risen to 73 per cent of turnover, which is well above the recommended level.

Although gate receipts for Charlton, who lie seventh in the Premiership table, were up, the amount of money they received from television fell. Clubs such as Charlton have, for some time, been calling for a reform of how the cash is divided.

Currently, 50 per cent is shared between the 20 Premiership clubs equally. Of the remaining 50 per cent, half depends on a club's League position and the other half on how many times they appear on television. It means a top club will automatically receive £10m more than a mid-table club.

The Premier League has already launched an investigation into evidence that the number of away fans and casual supporters has dropped since August, when the League's new £1bn contract with Sky increased the total number of live matches - with Saturday lunchtime and teatime kick-offs - from 106 to 138. Charlton are among those who have felt compelled to cut ticket prices for some of these matches.

The Premier League said yesterday that it "wholeheartedly" agreed with Murray's concerns and blamed the situation on European competition law. It said that more games were being shown than it wanted, to maintain the principle of "collective bargaining" - in which clubs do not sell their rights individually - while appeasing the European Commission.

As a result, the games were sold in four packages rather than just one "exclusive" deal. The Premier League also defended the way it divided the cash, saying: "All of our clubs get a significant share of revenue".

Murray assured fans that the club still had "lots of money to spend" on players. With about £2m available to spend this summer, Murray says the club are on a firm financial footing.

"When you look at the figure for the half year before player amortisation and player trading, we lost £491,000," he said. "We believe we can more than make that up in the next six months, so there should be a small operating profit. We always tend to balance our income with our outgoings and budget to break even.

"The fans would see that the club is in a healthy position and not spending more than it can afford to borrow. We are in good shape from that point of view."

He added: "The figures also do not really show that we have lots of money to spend in the transfer window - that kitty won't disappear.

"We managed to buy four or five quality players [last summer] and the fans should be encouraged that the club managed to attract players of the likes of Danny Murphy and Dennis Rommedahl that two or three years ago we would not have been able to do."

Comments